RaveThe Guardian (UK)While his portrayal of the exiled community that tries to remake its home in the camp is brilliantly alive with incidents and personalities, more beguiling still is his double portrait of teenage Saba and her brother Hagos ... The exchange of masculine and feminine roles within the context of a sexually conservative culture makes for a gripping and courageous narrative. Both Saba and Hagos ultimately gain from the trade-off and find the strength to break out of the suffocating expectations their community has of them. A feminist book, then, and, exhilaratingly, so much more.
Jokha Alharthi, trans. by Marilyn Booth
MixedThe Guardian (UK)...it’s harder to make out these themes in the novel itself, perhaps because of the complex structure. The narrative alternates between a third-person viewpoint and the first-person voice of Abdallah ... The stories of many others are woven in, making the shape of the book more a tangled skein than a linear progression ... While there are some frustrations for the reader to overcome, the glimpses into a culture relatively little known in the west are fascinating.
RaveThe GuardianFast-moving and relentlessly sunny, the novel quickly develops into a romp that takes in all the major events of the 20th century. Like Forrest Gump, Allan is an innocent with the knack of being in the right place at the right time. He has also had a hand in everything from the Russian revolution to Reagan's Star Wars … Like Allan, the plot is pleasingly nimble and the book's endearing charm offers a happy alternative to the more familiar Nordic noir.
PositiveThe GuardianMexican author Valeria Luiselli’s novel, translated by Christina MacSweeney, is interesting and singular; it bristles with references to philosophy and literature, from Tacitus to Baudrillard via Montaigne and GK Chesterton. It is quirky, funny even, and highly structured.